Microencapsulated peppermint (Mentha x piperita
L.) essential oil (MPEO) is a prospective botanical herbicide. A hypothesis was formulated, that the type of growth medium (vermiculite or silty clay loam soil substrate) affects the phytotoxic potential of MPEO. A pot experiment in a randomized design assessed the effect of five doses of MPEO in a range of 0–108 g m−2
or 0–145 g m−2
, mixed with vermiculite or with soil, respectively, on early growth of white mustard (Sinapis alba
L. cv. Zlata), tested here as a model “weed” species. The morphologic analyses were supported by selected biochemical measurements. The two highest doses of microcapsules (from 73 to 145 g m−2
) caused a significant decrease of plants’ height and biomass. An increase of anthocyanin content in the aboveground parts of mustard is supportive for the induction of defense mechanisms against MPEO-triggered stress in mustard leaves. In conclusion, MPEO appears as a promising bio-herbicide. However, we are aware that further studies on the mechanisms of action of MPEO in different weed species are necessary to test (i) whether or not the effect is consistent to be proficiently exploited for weed control in field and (ii) to deepen the biochemical and physiological reactions by the plants against MPEO treatments.
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